Trust is a fickle little thing

I’m coming upon some big life experiences: things are going well in the AIA, I’m trying to navigate my career, and I’m buying a house. You heard me right – a house. All by myself.

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That’s not actually the point of this post, though. It’s just a piece of it. You see, the big things make you BE big. You have to act like a grownup because…well…the real world doesn’t take kindly to throwing toys, much less temper tantrums.

These big things, though? They also have a way of making you play it safe. They frighten you into doing the thing that ruffles the least amount of feathers. They keep you in a bad situation out of fear. A mortgage, a car payment, a family. They’re all things to answer to and answer for. And sometimes the fastest answer is the least frightening one. Because let’s face it, it takes a lot to stand up and push for better when you might have good enough (or something bad that keeps the rest of life comfortable).

I’m moving through this process right now in a lot of ways. And tonight I realized just how much I’ve grown over the last couple months.

I’ve been given a lot of opportunities in the last couple months at the moments I needed them most. Some of them have continued to grow and provide fruit, and some of them appear to only have been temporary. I still learned from them, and I will continue to try to do so, but I sense that opportunity to learn is quickly ending. I’ve been praying about what the right move looks like, that I might be shown the path.

Today I got an option to that path and I’m struggling with it a little bit. It has become increasingly clear to me that a part of my career path has provided as much fruit as it ever will and from this point will only continue to rot (to continue with the fruit metaphor). This new option would provide me ample learning opportunity from people I know and respect, but currently cannot promise to be long term. I’m struggling with waiting it out in a bad environment while hoping something better comes along – and taking the leap of faith and learning as much as possible in the time I am provided while hoping it turns into a long term situation.

Here’s where the difference comes in. In the past, all of this would have made me a straight up HOT. MESS. I would have been such a worry wart that I probably would have given myself an ulcer by now thinking over every option and outcome and figuring out every single minute step of the plan.

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But in the last couple months I’ve come to see all of the grace from a loving God showing it in tangible ways that mean something to me. A really great AIA Convention where I was able to build the foundations for relationships that have continued to grow to this day. A job that gave me the chance to learn the front-end side of the architecture world. Things in a part of my life aren’t panning well and I’m unhappy and uncomfortable and have been praying about it. And He’s presented me with a new option that solves the issues of the uncomfortable scenario…the option just doesn’t have a defined ending. The very thing that would have made me so very anxious…

But what I realize now is that if it did have a clear path…I wouldn’t have to trust Him as much. To trust that it will all work out. And that’s where I’ve grown, because I’m more okay with that thought than I’ve ever been.

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The sky hooks of safety

So the Lenten season is over. And I stuck to my goal of not seeking out dates and focusing on my relationship with God.

In that time, I did go on two dates. They were…what they were. And I started to think I was ready to entertain the idea of a relationship with someone other than/as well as God. Evidently I still have some more healing to do, because the resounding answer I felt in my heart and stomach was “nope”.

INDEPENDENCE

That one word can bring so much growth, and yet cause so much turmoil. Yes, it is good to be independent. It is good to want to work towards goals. It is good to have the desire and gumption to dream and act on those dreams.

What’s not good? Doing those things without God.

The Lenten season, and the two weeks since, taught me that I’ve been doing a lot of independent-of-God aspiring lately. Yeah, we’ve talked about it before. The bull in a china shop, the child with tourettes on the roller coaster. Take your pick…the theme is woven throughout this blog. I knew it was a part of me, but I could never name it.

These last weeks…I’ve named it. Independence. Self-protection. In aspiring to achieve a fulfilling life, I turned my focus away from God. I assumed He was right beside me, cheering me on. I decided, like the ignorant human that I am, that I could achieve my goals faster and easier on my own, with Him as my failsafe and cheerleader.

Holy cow, I’m dumb.

Time for some architectural metaphors:

Background: In architecture school, there’s always bad students who don’t consider the reality of their design…namely: how it will stand. When it came time for presentations, we joked that their projects would be held up by “sky hooks” – theoretical hooks in the clouds that held the load of the roof and somehow kept the building from collapsing.

So…in me trying to take on the world by myself, in being independent, in protecting myself…I built this wall. Whatever its need was, it was sturdy, and made of real things, and there was “evident” safety in its structure. It held me up. And then the next problem or goal arose, and I built another wall. And another. And another. And soon enough I’m running around in this maze of walls, trying to figure it all out on my own. My “safety” is now my prison.

God? He’s the sky hooks. You can’t see Him. And that’s crazy scary. You don’t know how He is going to hold you up. How He is going to get you to your goals, His goals for you….but you just have to trust. You have to depend on Him, and know that you are safe. You have to know that your life, your plan and path, is this beautifully wondrous design. It defies all human expectations. And it is capable of happening if you just trust God.

Let your faith be bigger than your fear

Your choices are:

1.  the maze of man-made walls with no window to the future

or

2.  the amazing sky hooks that allow views to the wonder of life surrounding you.

It’s a no-brainer to me now.

Now I just have to actually practice that realization.

He is the sky hooks holding up the design of your life. You just have to get out of your own way to trust the safety of His love, and everything else will come in His time.

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There are lessons everywhere

Church today hit the nail on the head in some feelings I’ve been having lately.

I’ve written about this before. I’m a woman of action. I hate sitting around waiting when I can be out doing. And more to that, (typically) when I set my mind to something, very little keeps me from reaching that goal. I’m determined, courageous, focused.

That person, though? Is a bull in a china shop when it comes to the dating world. I hate the waiting and the seeking. I hate going on dates only to realize this guy isn’t what he says he is in one way or another. That he lied about himself or his intentions. Or is just plain boring. So I go back to the drawing board and I seek more, harder, better, faster, stronger. *cue techno dance break*

I know what I want. WHY CAN’T I FIND IT?!?!?!

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Today’s lesson was the first of 6 Lenten lessons. It was about Abram and his life. In Genesis 12-18, The Lord comes to Abram to tell him to pack up his stuff and move his family to an unknown place. He’s going to make him famous, and give him more descendants than there are stars. Mind you, Abram is 75 and his wife is barren. But he says, “Alright. That sounds awesome. Let’s do this.” Abram makes a sacrifice to the Lord, creating a covenant between them to honor these promises to each other. 11 years later, there’s still no kid, so Abram takes matters into his own hands. He defies The Lord’s promise. The Lord says, “I will still honor you.” His wife even questions the ability for this to happen, given how old they are. The Lord says, “Why did you laugh at me? Just believe.”

Finally, 24 years later, Sara finally bears Abraham a son.

God came to both of them on many occasions throughout that time period. Reminding them of His promise, of the covenant between them, that He would provide. Sometimes the more impossible the promise, the more frequently The Lord reaches out to remind you he will deliver. All we have to do is believe. Abram asks The Lord how he can know for sure this will happen. God’s response is something to the likes of “The time is not ready yet, but my promises will be fulfilled.”

His promises will be fulfilled.

This lesson today was like a bucket of cold water over my shoulders. I believe in Him, in His goals in my life…but I get restless and try to achieve them faster on my own. I put in effort. I join dating site, after dating site, after dating site. Searching. Trying. Seeking.

And all God asks is that I look to Him. That I keep my promise to Him, as He will to me. That I step back. From rushing. From the computer. And trust Him.

The inverse of this being The Lord’s promise to us and our rebellion in seeking answers of our own means. We broke our promise to Him. We do it daily. When someone breaks a promise with us, we have a tendency to overpower, dominate – to do to them what they did to us. To take matters into our own hands, as Abram did. And God? He still honored His promise. HE STILL HONORS HIS PROMISE. When we walk a life with God, when we truly trust in Him, it doesn’t matter (as much) what others do to us. It doesn’t matter how long it takes. Yes, someone may hurt us, and we may realize that they aren’t to be trusted, or kept close. But we release them. We forgive. We move forward. Yes, it’s frustrating to wait – like an excitable kid in line for his first roller coaster ride. But with God, the plan is so much more wonderful than anything we could have imagined. Why rush for the vanilla, when you can hold out for the mint chocolate chip?

A major part of the Lenten season is about what you’re “giving up”. It becomes fodder at lunches, around the water cooler, in talks with friends. Who is so strong that they can go 40 days without something? But if we step back, really we’re saying: that thing…is essential to my life. And it’s hard for me to live without it. It…this THING…fills me up.

What does that compare with the splendors God has for you? What does that compare with the empty tomb of resurrection and salvation? He should be what fills us up. Lent has become what we give up. Why don’t we make ourselves empty so He can fill us up?

For me, this “thing” is dating. I bum-rushed it like a rookie cornerback looking for his first sack. I want that joy, that happiness, of having someone by my side who gets me. Who wants to experience life with me. Who will love me through and through and shout it from the mountains. I’ve been searching and fighting and clawing the last 2.5 months, looking for him. When really I should have been looking to Him. So for Lent, I’m stepping back. I will answer responses as they come to me, but I won’t be seeking anything out. I’m refocusing my gaze on where it should have always been. On Him. Because in Him lies my ultimate promise and my ultimate mate. He knows and has already picked out the man who is my equal whole. He knows the man who will take my hand and my heart and treat it with compassion (and passion)…because He created him. And who am I to argue with that?

I honor my covenant with Him, He honors it with me. That’s how it works, folks.

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On matters of the heart

The first months of dating have been unsuccessful, borderline downright discouraging. Men who lie. Men as dumb as cardboard boxes. Men who don’t know how to open up. Cowards. Bores. You get the picture…

While unsuccessful, it has continued to teach me about what I want out of a relationship. That I want someone who will stand beside me bravely, not paralyzed with fear. That I want someone passionate about us, as I will be to him. Someone so excited with our love that he will yell it from the rooftops. Someone who will love me unconditionally as God does. Whose love in Him will show through in his character as a wonderful, loving spouse, not motivated by fear or external factors, but by his love of God, and by the love I give him, given to me by God. An unabashed, unwavering, unfaltering love.

I’m also beginning to learn that my timeframe is not the timeframe in question. I can’t rush these things, any more than I can make the earth spin backwards. Love and marriage are gifts given to mankind by God. It is His will. Yes, there are marriages that are entered into with the wrong motives, or become filled with the wrong motives over time to the extent that the only healing to be done is walk away. But you do so, bravely, with God. Knowing His love for you is unending and that His plan is greater than any you can imagine. And those plans can’t be rushed.

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Forgetting that the timeline is not yours can lead to a lot of miserable feelings. Doubt. Hurt. A lack of faith in the path your life is taking. It is a dark place. Reminding myself that it is not only up to me as to my path is a daily chore. Remembering that there is a love out there meant for me, my gift from God, is hard to swallow in the dark moments. But it is true. God tells me that there is a love out there for me, a man who will love me without condition or fear, whose heart overflows with love for me, because God is in it.

And so I pray that the heart of my future husband will be filled with God just as He is in mine. And when that happens, watch out for the fireworks…

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Another’s brave journey

A dear friend lost his job today. I know this blog is about me and my journey, but so much of me is given strength by the close knit group of friends I am lucky to have (see here and here) – so for me, his journey is my journey. As he is my friend, I am his. And today I feel for him.

I almost don’t know where to begin; all of the thoughts seem to be swirling like an unkempt merry-go-round, tumbling around with the mismatched clothes in the dryer (because why the hell would a merry-go-round be in the dryer? My point exactly. Bag o’ cats up there). I pained that I didn’t know how to come to his aid today, and I myself have heard – and been frustrated by – too much of “I know how you feel” lately to be able to utter those words to him as he shared the news with his friends. I’ve had to leave a job, many jobs in fact, in the past because of military moves, but have yet been stationary and without. So I don’t, truly, know how it feels. I found myself wanting to say it, and bit my tongue as we spoke. Remembering how those words felt like a hot hand on my cheek when others said them to me.

But I empathize nonetheless.

The world of architecture right now, and in recent years, is not an easy one. While most of the nation struggled/struggles under a max 8% unemployment rate, architecture has been almost double that at times – and still sits above the national average. Even so, he is a talented architect. He is goal-oriented and attuned to details. He is so worthy of a blessed future and I can only imagine how downtrodden he feels tonight.

He is one to always see the design in things, how something relates to another. Another friend described him recently as “the big picture” guy. When I saw this quote today, I immediately thought of him.

I hope he realizes the support structure he has. His family. His friends. His peers. I hope he realizes his value to the profession. I hope he sees this as a chance to redirect the journey, rather than a collapsed bridge. I have many hopes, but mostly I hope he finds peace in the unsettled moments, both now and in the immediate future.

I know he is a believer, so I will end with this, because no one ever says it better than He does.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

We’re all in your corner. Know that, if you know anything.

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Thursday Video: A diamond, a rose, a most precious material

A military friend sent me this the other day. It’s amazing how God speaks to you. This video is a reminder I need to give myself daily.

I am beautiful. I am smart. I am funny. I am kind. I am unique.

I am worthy. I am worthy of being treated like the most precious of gems.

I am worthy of a love and affection most powerful.

I am.

And until I am blessed with that love in this human life, I am secure in the knowledge that I have that love in Him. Unconditional. Unfailing. Without hesitation or question.

He gave me strength, and still loves me in my weakest moments. He gave me talent, and still loves me when I’m silly. He gave me a great love to give. A great love worthy of loving.

While I seek to find that person in me, those characteristics, again – the strength, the love, the talent, the kindness, the patience – I have hope because I know He already sees it. While I journey to find a person to share my life and my love with, a person who will love me as God loves me, who will show me happiness in the darkest of days and be my partner, my equal in my life’s adventures – I have faith because I know He already sees not just the journey, but the destination.

I am awesome.

And when I forget it, I have awesome friends to remind me. I have me to remind me. I have HIM to remind me.

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Have a little faith

What’s the adage? Two steps forward, one step back?

After all my talk about sitting back and enjoying the ride, tempering my inner crazy child, I had a minor meltdown this weekend/today. The details don’t really matter. Suffice it to say 50hr work weeks + fever-inducing illness + gloomy weekend = Lora in a funk.

I wasn’t necessarily questioning myself and my choices…just a minor panic attack of the unknown. I warned here and here that I was/am a planner. That the unknown, the sitting back and letting life happen both scares and frustrates me. It makes me feel helpless. I am a woman of action, and being in this in between…this unknown amoeba of still settling into my new life, unsure of where it’s going…is helplessness by the very definition.

On Sunday at church (tested out a new church, starting the search for a new church family) the interim pastor gave a sermon on getting down in the thick of the mess and getting your hands dirty to get things done. That even in the most seemingly uneventful or unworthy situations, miracles are happening. Good things are happening. We only have to notice them.

I never would have pictured myself where I am now. You don’t get married expecting to get divorced. And this new life may not be quite figured out yet, but each day is a step forward. Sometimes life throws you curve balls. Sometimes you bonk 10 miles from home. And there’s nothing you can do but grit through it and look for the good things along the way to help the time pass. It doesn’t do you any good to get off your bike and stomp and curse your situation. Your path, which may seem slow and tedious. Your destination, which may seem unknown. All of these things are part of God’s bigger plan, which means there’s miracles along the way. You just have to put on your shades and find them through the blinding light of awesome. Oh, and maybe stop thrashing and cursing.

Who knows. We’ll see about that last bit. ;)

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